Unexpected release of lifeboat on-load hook mechanism is an HSSE alert issued by BP Global Projects Organization. It occured on PSVM project - Angola Developments on 8/5/2011.

What Happended

Life boad unexpectedly released

During a mandatory 3 monthly lifeboat deployment drill, the forward hook mechanism on the lifeboat released unexpectedly causing the forward end of the lifeboat to fall to the deck. As per procedure no personnel were in the lifeboat at the time of the incident. The subsequent investigation determined that the operator of the vessel was fully compliant with manufacturer and industry requirements for maintenance, inspection and certification of the lifeboat and deployment system. Procedures for lifeboat deployment were fully compliant with the manufacturer’’s recommendations. The deployment mechanism and hydrostatic release inside the lifeboat were both fully closed, locked and in the ““safe”” position. The lifeboat is a Norsafe JYN80 type Totally Enclosed Lifeboat with a Norsafe ““NLH- 70”” hook system complete with on-load hydrostatic mechanism.

Lesson One

Release mechanism

In October 2004 the Norsafe Operations and Maintenance Manual was revised to incorporate comments made by the US Coast Guard following an incident in the Gulf of Mexico. (http://www.uscg.mil/hq/cg5/cg5214/docs/Norsaf eReleaseMech_Jan04.pdf ) The release mechanism at the time of the incident was the Camsafe system, the predecessor of the NLH-70 that was involved in the recent incident in Angola. Not all of the recommendations, relating to the Camsafe system, made by the USCG were incorporated into the Norsafe Manual for the NLH-70 - in particular, the requirement to verify that the Cam assembly of the release hook is correctly engaged immediately prior to launch. The Norsafe operating manual for the NLH-70 only requires this check to be made on recovery of the lifeboat. The requirement to verify that the Cam assembly of the release hook is correctly engaged immediately prior to launch should be incorporated into operating procedures.

Lesson Two

During the investigation of this incident it emerged that at the 89th Session of the IMO Marine Safety Committee, May 2011, the MSC adopted a new paragraph 5 of SOLAS regulation III/1 to require lifeboat on-load release mechanisms not complying with new International Life-Saving appliances (LSA) Code requirements to be replaced no later than the first scheduled dry-docking of the ship after 1 July 2014 but, in any case, not later than 1 July 2019. The NLH-70 release mechanism does not comply with these new regulations Notwithstanding that the new regulations do not yet apply the operator of the vessel concerned is now replacing these hooks with LSA compliant hooks, supplied by Norsafe.

Actions for Sites and Installations

1. Any BP operations that have lifeboats should check that their lifeboat launch and recovery procedures have a requirement to physically check that the hook release mechanism is properly engaged, at the actual hook mechanism, immediately prior to any launch operation.

2. The new SOLAS regulations apply to all lifeboat on-load hook release mechanisms and are likely to require many such types of hook mechanisms to be replaced. BP operations should be aware of this change to the SOLAS regulations and put in a plan to be compliant.

Contacts for Further Information

  • Captain Fred Papachristidis-Bove – Investigation Team Leader
  • Paul Edwards – SURF HSE Manager – PSVM Project

Legal Review completed

Ian Cann – Senior Legal Adviser - GPO